Saturday, July 17, 2010

Representing Redux

In light of recent events and comments, I thought it might be nice to reprint this post from July of last year. If you ride a bicycle then you are one of a very small group of people in the Western World, and as such, should remember that each of us is important in the fight to create a safe place in the road for all of us to use.

Just who represents cycling? There are discussions about just that going on all over the place, these days. I was thinking about this as I rode around on Saturday.

Is it my family? An urban, international, professional, 30 something couple with three kids looking to find better ways to live our lives?

Is it the legion of young people who fly around the streets in the latest indy fashion and vintage bikes?

The DIY contingent could lay a claim to the title. Would they be right?

How about the stunt riders and BMX lovers? Are they less representative?

The messengers have been out there since the beginning, but they don't always get the credit for it. Are they less "cyclist" than anyone else on a bike?

Can we leave the beach kids, the ones without a care in the world, out of the picture?

Is it in the use, or not, of a helmet that represents us all?

When you look at it, we all represent cycling. It makes no difference if we are weekend road warriors, or utility cyclists, or single track riders, or bike messengers... when we are on our bikes, we each represent the rest, because it isn't about the bikes. It is about the people, the lovely, diverse, brave, pedaling people who ride, and they can not be pigeon holed. Nor should they be.

Ride on my fellow representatives! Show your pride. Shine with it. Ride with it.


  1. Great post! I am loving the fur on the kid's bike!

  2. Trully inspired!

    let's fight for our ride, share the road!

  3. I'm from Mexico city and I love your blog, because it represents just the beauty of cycling no matter how you look or what you where.
    Something I really don't like about the new cycling tendency blogs it's that 80% are of the fashionable, clothing and bike judges where the bike seems more like an accesory. I have had some hard discussions with the creator of the blog, because that's his tendency and it feels he's more concern about selling the cute bikes his making, a valid point but don't see the need of pointing out that you aren't fashionable.
    A numerous cycling groups from 10 to 20 years back had survived here in the city, they go from road bike groups to bike as transportation defenders, but must of all, there have been since 1950 people that work as on their bikes as to go to work, but such people seem to be forget by the newbies fashionistas, cuz they don't fill the profile, they are poor people, all kind of workers, and since I choose the bike as my way of moving in the city I have had the pleauser of talking and getting to know a great number of this people and I come to realized that we own to them at least here in the city that bike has survived. You can't stop getting surprised of what things or number of people they can carry on a bike or the big cargo trikes.
    Well that's all from me, just a little cyclist in one big city strugling to survive (by the way I really really love a picture of one of your kids just pedaling really hard ahead a group of grown up cyclists).

    Alex A

  4. I agree that we all represent bicycling. I don't want to be associated with so-called bike culture. My bicycle is a tool that benefits my health and my pocket book. It's a great stress reliever from the Great Recession. I admit to an obsession to clothes and shoes and that is reflected in my bike blog. Hopefully, the way I have integrated my bike into my daily life will be a model for others who are looking for tools to make their lives more manageable during a time when so many things appear beyond our control.

  5. Sorry for the bad spelling it was kinda late when I wrote them and my english haven't been the best. I do like the fashion and don't find anything sexier that a woman on a dress riding a bike, but I just don't like the war against lycra or non dutch/city bike, everyone has a valid point and in the end it's just a matter of having fun and using your bike regardless of anything else but it just my getting out my frustration by the ones that get into judging others (fahisonistas vs roadrunners; roadrunners vs everyone else; helmet vs non helmet), we all are the big wheels moving our old manners into new (not so new in mexico city) way of transportation. By the way I've just seen the "she rides a bike" blog it's very cool!

    Alex A

  6. I agree with the sentiments in the blog.

    However, when you don't have a choice or the choice is so very limited then there IS a problem.

    In Australia:
    - we have mandatory helmet laws (no choice there...)
    - 99% of bikes sold are racers or MTB (limited choice)
    - hardly anybody cycles for utility (they're mostly 'training'... and then get back in the cars to drive to work)
    - bicycles are seen as weekend 'toys' still and cars are king here, like the US.

    In an ideal world it would be lovely to not have to point out differences between groups, but when you don't have the healthy cycling culture required in order to encourage those that have not considered cycling to get out on a bike, differences are important to point out.

    My 60yo mother is not swayed by the vast majority of cyclists in Australia who are dressed for the Tour de France despite 1) not being particularly fit, and 2) not actually competing in anything...

    She is swayed by seeing a normal woman, in normal clothes cycling to work. You'd be hard pressed finding many of those here, sadly. She has just bought a dutch bike after not cycling for 40 years.

    Dr Paul Martin
    Brisbane, Australia

  7. Paul it seems that Mexico city and Brisbane are very similar cities, just for one big detail, car is king. You do have a point saying that for regular people to leave their cars is to make the diference between them. Just in case something about me: I ride a brompton folder and use lycras as underwear only on my 3 hour two way commute, I'm 25, have been bike commuting for 4 years (one and a half seriously for any trip I make) and I don't know how to drive a car.

    But in the particular case of my city it makes me angry because it is totally a fashionable accesory thing, here we also have a lot of people with the weekend toys and that does apply for the ones introducing the "super new" chic movement to my city.

    As I wrote in my first comment what makes me angry is that the retrofit you get globally out from my country it's from the ones that are the chicsters, making me feel like they think it something new, as this is a common share in the US, Canada, but in this city, people REAL people with nothing more than their regular clothes and the bike they could afford (some ride the christmas cheap bmx present they hardly buy to their children) have for more than 50 years cycle around town and they are totally ignored because they are poor (not cute riding a bike to match their outfit or carbon fibre techs or making gimmicks on the street), as it's now targeted to people with a nice sedan (mid to high class) as a "super brand new idea" and it's like this people never existed or does not exist now, and they are the ones riding daily on their bikes any time of the day any weather, as for the chicsters they go get drunk driving their cars in the weekends if it rains they avoid gettin wet (and i'm not talking about heavy rains, we all avoid them I suppose), if it's over 20 kms one way take their fancy cars so they end up using the bike just for getting a coffe or something (which is nice to as they are on their bikes) so it makes me feel they don't have the right to judge anyone contrary as in many of this kind of blogs when they are reall bike commuters with whole families and many of them with no car on their garage.
    Others are the weekend warriors with a big bike rack on their SUV's (just as in any big western city) Nothing against the use of the car either just the abuse of it.

    So my point is in south american countries this posture do seems elytist not beacuse the lycra/ helmet thing but because it just feels like something that's in vouge ignoring the real people that are real commute warriors using their bikes to the extreme, carring things in some peculiar surprising way (think of a stash of newspaper the height of an average mexican just to mention one) and they have enjoy and have manage to survived as an non labeled non organized movement but for the newbies it just like they don't exist.... but hell if making it that way really get the sedan/suv killers on a bike let it be! (just don't share the separatist ignored view to the real bike commuters in my city and the egomaniac idea that they are the ones leading the tendency) This is just the way it happens in my beloved Mexico City.

    Regards to every city warrior in any city in the world
    Alex A

  8. Paul, I too am from Australia (Canberra - which is considered one of the most cycle friendly cities in Aus)and I do think it is true that many ordinary people are put off by the majority racer types in Lycra they see zooming around. Maybe slightly less so here - I do tend to see more people wearing ordinary clothes cycling to work, shops etc., although this tends to be in the suburbs closer to the town centres.

    It is great if people can see their bikes as a travel option for many different activities, and also see that you don't have to have all the gear and loads of money to do it and enjoy it.

    But...I think it is important to acknowledge that not everyone has the time, resources or whatever else is needed to make cycling a priority for transport or exercise every day. There are many different reasons people might ride bikes, and if the only one is to be a 'weekend warrior' in Lycra who drives to a spot, races or trains with others then drives home, that's okay too. I agree, the car is still so much king (or queen, if you want to be PC ;) )and for the sake of sustainability this needs to change. It also means that cyclists often have a hard time of it in the 'battle' with the drivers on the roads. It would be great if we could change all this. But in the meantime, if just one more person gets out there and cycles, even if it's *only* for the thrill of freedom and excitement as they zip along on their road bike on a Saturday morning, then that's enough (as long as they are courteous and polite - although you don't have to be dressed in Lycra and racing to be rude or dangerous on a bike!)

  9. What a fantastic conversation going on here! I love that this can happen on such a broad Global scale! I was going to add something to it, but I think, instead, I will write a post that we can continue the thought process on : )

    On the meantime, press on riders! Keep the comments coming!

  10. hola Alex A. mandanos un correo con fotos, nos encantaria publicar una historia y si quieres incluir tus opiniones y tus puntos de vista. el DF es una metropolis que siempre me ha recibido con los brazos abiertos.
    mucho gusto esuchar de ti y mil saludos. mantente en contacto!
    cylrab /at/ gmail

  11. ¡¡Hey!! pero claro que por supuestísimo que si yo con todo gusto, no tengo muchas fotos en movimiento. Las que tengo están muy posadas pero yo te mando las pocas que tengo (no soy mucho de tomar o tomarme fotos y la que mas me gusta sale solo mi pie una llanta de mi bici y una ardilla la puedes ver aquí

    Pero mas que una historia sobre mi (la verdad la mía no es muy sobresaliente) me gustaría tomar fotos de esta gente que platico y quiero tanto y que son la realidad de la bici en el df para que publiquen eso que es la neta lo que vale la pena, los que diario usan su bici porque por convicción sin importar el clima ni la hora, lo que mas maravilla y los que tienen olvidados por los nuevos chicos cool del barrio como ya comenté.

    Por que en serio me disgusta que lo que se promueve de cycle chic acá es solo cuando cierran las calles para los paseos ciclistas y no salen de ahí o de las colonias finas y acaba siendo una intolerancia donde si hasta te pones sneakers para correr estás out.. dios santo.

    Pero bueno yo con todo gusto te mando lo que quieras y si un día en el df no te reciben con los brazos abiertos házmelo saber para ver a quien le doy una lección :p y ¡si vienes nos vemos para platicar!

    (¿cylarb es la dirección?)

    Dos mil saludos para ti